JESSICA MACLEAN - Volunteer Feature
Q: How long have you been volunteering with Techsploration and why did you become involved?
I’ve been with Techsploration as a role model since 2016. I would love to see our industry grow to be more diverse and inclusive, and I feel passionate about introducing it to students who may not otherwise consider construction as a career path.
Q: Briefly describe all of the ways you have helped with the program and/or describe how you feel you have impacted the program?
I’ve been a guest presenter, role model, and member of the Program Advisory Committee.
Q: In your own words, why do you think encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM and skilled trades is important?
Our skilled trades industry in Nova Scotia is just as in-demand as ever. There are rewarding and fulfilling careers here that are not being taken advantage of. Construction is traditionally one of the slowest advancing industries and I believe that the more women are represented with unique perspectives and abilities, the faster we will grow and improve.
Q: What has been your most memorable Techsploration experience?
I hosted 8 young women and their teachers in 2018 as part of Techsploration Goes to Work, and because of my active projects at the time we were able to meet structural engineers, architects, marine biologists, neuroscientists, and plant scientists in addition to learning about construction engineering. I didn’t recruit one engineer that day!
Q: Do you believe your career path would have been different if you had the opportunity to participate in Techsploration?
I’m lucky to have fallen into a career that I love and that I like to think I’d have chosen regardless. I learned about my job during my second year of university. Once I knew about it, it changed my perspective and trajectory on my education. If I had known managing construction was an option in high school, it’s possible I might at least have made more streamlined choices to get where I am now.
Q: What or who inspired you to pursue your current role/career path?
I became an engineer because my dad is an engineer and I liked math and physics – not the best criteria, but not terrible either. It is worth noting that I did not understand what engineers did until well into my first year of university. I chanced upon construction because it was the only work-term available to me for my first semester of co-op. Altogether, I’m very fortunate to have ended up where I am!
Q: Can you briefly describe the impact you have seen on girls within the Techsploration program?
My favourite outcome of Techsploration is meeting a new team at the start of the season and seeing them become confident, assertive, and curious throughout the program. It is so rewarding to see young women picturing themselves in the roles they’re learning about.
Q: What advice would you give to an incoming volunteer?
To a new volunteer I would say not to worry about entertaining the girls – I’ve always found them to be smart and engaged no matter what we are learning about. I would remind them that middle school hours are quite a bit shorter than typical working hours, and planning an 8-hour day for Techsploration Goes to Work is not a great idea. You will have a sleepy team come 4:00 PM!
Q: What impact do you feel Techsploration has on Nova Scotia (i.e. – education/future workforce development)?
I am so proud to have my small part in the impact I see Techsploration having in Nova Scotia. The ranks of impressive and successful alumnae speak for themselves, not to mention the inspiring young women I’ve met personally through this program. Techsploration has provided a community that is not just limited to students, but to all the volunteers who come together and share experiences.
Techsploration is helping women build momentum in STEM and skilled trades and offering opportunities to young ladies that might not have been accessible to them otherwise. Before I’m done I fully expect to be sitting at a table and working with women leaders in industry — I’m certain some of them will be there because of Techsploration.